Fantastic Four DVD Review
PictureFantastic Four is presented with a lavish, broad, 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. It looks just about as fantastic as you would expect from the title, with good detail throughout, no softness, only a couple of scenes with notable edge enhancement and simply no grain whatsoever. The colour scheme is very broad and really makes the show spectacular as every colour, from the blues of their outfits to the fiery glow of the Human Torch (although The Thing still occasionally looks like a guy in a suit - probably because it is). Blacks are solid and the transfer exhibits no signs of print damage whatsoever.
SoundFantastic Four is presented with two glorious six-speaker surround sound efforts: a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a marginally superior DTS mix. The dialogue is presented clearly from the frontal array (although the cheering crowds sometimes breach the rears) but the really standout aspects are the thumping soundtrack (in typical mock-rock style that we have become accustomed to with Marvel interpretations) and the many wonderful effects, both of which fully utilise the wide spectrum of your six-speaker array. From cars crashing to lighting strikes and The Thing smashing things up, it all sounds fantastic, particularly on the DTS track.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary by Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd. Unlike stated on the DVD box, Julian McMahon and Chris Evans don't appear to pop up at all in this commentary but thankfully the ultra-cool Michael Chiklis takes centre stage for most of it anyway, talking about his love for the comics, the locations in the movie and offering plenty of anecdotes about occurrences during the production. They talk about working around effects that have to be put in later, getting on so well on and off set and basically having a great time making this fun movie. This is a nice, fun, cheery commentary that is worth dipping into, but those who want more character background and technical information might have wanted a second track with Creator Stan Lee or Director Tim Story, respectively.
There are three Deleted Scenes: Reed Tests Plants, Reed and Sue in Planetarium and Reed and Sue Walk and Talk (which features a morph into Wolverine).
The Fantastic Four Video Diary is twenty minutes long, filmed in June and hosted by the gorgeous Jessica Alba. She takes us around the cast: Ioan Gruffuld, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon. We see them recording Radio Spots, going on the press tour, do talk shows, see the cameraman focus in on Alba's ass and generally get a feel for how much work went into promoting this movie. Michael Chiklis is probably the funniest of the contributors but the Featurette is so packed with itinerary lists, sped-up travelling and location shots that you get quite tired of it all by the end of its long runtime. Still, it is quite nice to see these actors (almost) let their guard down and behave unpretentiously behind the scenes.
The Making Of The Fantastic Four Featurette is shamefully only five minutes' long, with far too many clips from the final film, brief interview snippets with the cast members and a little bit of behind the scenes footage of them filming the movie. The Director pops up to try and explain the unbelievable plot but really everything you get told here you could have easily figured out from watching the movie. This is a particularly fluffy effort.
Fantastic Four: Making a Scene takes an eight-minute look at the big Brooklyn bridge set-piece, with members of the cast and crew talking about the difficulties they encountered in filming this scene, decisions over whether to replicate the bridge or just shut it down, how much of the bridge they would need for the scene and so forth. Since it was a key sequence, with plenty of fiery crashes and The Thing at the centre of it all, it is worth seeing how it was all put together and we get plenty of behind the scenes footage and information (as well as lots of final film clips to pad it out).
Fantastic Four: Casting Session is also eight minutes long and has the Director and his crew (and Stan Lee himself) in interview talking about the cast that they selected (along with soundbites from the relevant members). There are, once again, too many clips from the movie, but there plenty to learn about the movie in this one, particularly with Stan Lee on hand to talk about how this was the perfect time to bring out a Fantastic Four film (because of how good our CG is these days). Chiklis also pops up briefly to discuss how The Thing was always one of his favourite comic book characters and how he got to fulfil a childhood dream by playing him here and Alba is on hand to talk about how she did not think she was right for the role but everybody loved her in the end.
There are two Music Videos: Everything Burns by Ben Moody and Anastasia and Come On, Come In by Velvet Revolver and a Music Soundtrack Spot to advertise the soundtrack as a whole. I quite like Anastasia's singing (sometimes) and the comic-book-to-film images they use for the video are quite good, but this is just another generic 'girl and guy singing to mock rock' outing, not dissimilar from the track used in Daredevil (or a thousand other recent efforts). Oh and Ben Moody has one of the stupidest beards that I have ever seen. As for the Velvet Revolver track, that at least sounds a little more original, but the music video itself is not quite as entertaining.
We also get the Theatrical Trailer and the Teaser Trailer, both of which basically tell you the entire story in 1-2 minutes. It is another ludicrous example of how trailers these days tend to make watching half of the movie pointless because you have seen it all already. There is also a trailer for the animated movie, the Ultimate Avengers, based on the excellent (and relatively mature) Ultimates graphic novel, with its key stars, Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk. It looks quite good and if they stick to the original story then I will certainly be picking this one up.
There are Preview Trailers also available on disc startup, including the fun action-comedy Mr and Mrs Smith and the largely unnecessary new Martin Lawrence comedy, Rebound. It is a bit of a shame that these trailers are not available from the menu though.
Finally there is a brief, ninety-second First Look Preview for X3, the new X-Men movie. Basically there is next to no footage from the movie (which is both a blessing and a curse - a blessing because it does not spoil the surprise and a curse because the Trailer has been released so fans would have probably liked to have it here) and it has the Producer talking about how the story is going to focus on Wolverine (Why don't they just rename the movies? All of them are basically about Wolverine, which I have always found strange considering that Cyclops was the real team leader). Disappointingly pointless.
VerdictFantastic Four is a somewhat standard addition to the burgeoning new run of comic-book adaptations. Distinctly by-the-numbers, it is still good fun and bodes well for further, more developed adventures for this crew. The DVD video and audio presentation are solid, with the DTS track worth particular note and a bunch of (slightly flimsy) extras that at least give you plenty of time with the main cast members, which is quite a breath of fresh air. If you're a comic book fan then I'm sure you will enjoy this new addition to the genre (and fans of the Fantastic Four are certainly not going to be disappointed) and it is also great fodder for kids, but those who prefer their comic adaptations to have a little more depth, it is worth renting it first to check it out.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.59
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.